Author: Cheryl Lock
In today’s fast-paced environment, it’s more important than ever to take a little time to do the things that make you happy. With the rise of busy “always on” lifestyles, the term self-care has evolved as a way to describe the act of doing things solely for yourself. Besides the fact that these activities make us feel good, studies have also shown that following some traditional self-care routines — like getting plenty of sleep, meditating and finding time to follow your passions — are good for our mental and physical health. On the flip side, spending too much money on self-care activities can put a serious dent in your wallet.
Here are some easy ways to balance making self-care a top priority while not busting your budget in the process.
Tip 1: Include self-care in your monthly budget
How it helps: The best way to avoid feeling guilty about spending money on yourself for self-care activities is to plan for these expenses as part of your overall budget. Start by figuring out a way to cut back in other areas of spending to make room for your self-care needs. A good goal might be to take your current monthly budget and try shaving 5% off the top to put towards your self-care, instead. A few savings examples include: cutting back on buying fancy drinks when you grocery shop, suggesting potluck nights at your house for entertainment with your friends and switching to energy-saving light bulbs or appliances. All these small savings can really add up to a nice little cushion to put towards investing in self-care.
Tip 2: Use the internet to help you stay on track
How it helps: The internet is wonderful for a number of reasons, and with today’s technology, your self-care needs can be just a click away. Using reoccurring online ordering or monthly subscription services is not only a super easy way to automatically maintain a self-care routine, but it’s also a great way to know exactly how much you’ll be spending for each purchase every month. Having a holistic view of your budget and a solid estimate for your self-care needs means you’ll have no excuse not to save up for or have room in your budget for these projected expenses.
Tip 3: Mix expensive habits with free ones
How it helps: While it’s true that some self-care habits can be pricey — like a monthly massage or mani/pedi, for example — an easy way to cut back on self-care spending is to intersperse expensive things with other activities that are cheap or, better yet, free. Taking some time for yourself doesn’t always have to cost a lot. Things like going for a walk or run outside while listening to your favorite podcast, reading a book from the library or taking a bubble bath in your own home, are all fairly cheap ways to get in some “you” time.
Tip 4: Find someone to hold you accountable
How it helps: As with most goals in life, finding someone to hold you accountable will make you more likely to stick with attainable self-care objectives. So if your goal is to get in a daily run, try joining a running club, or if you want to read more, start a book club. These are free activities, and knowing other people are expecting you to show up will make it harder for you to find excuses not to make them a priority. As an added bonus, making your self-care routine social could be even more beneficial for your health, since one study found that having supportive friendships may be an even greater predictor of our long-term wellbeing than family ties, especially as we get older.
Tip 5: Figure out free childcare
How it helps:If you’re a parent, taking time to get a massage, have dinner with your friends or significant other or even go to the gym can be doubly as expensive when you need to factor in childcare costs. Luckily, there are some easy ways to potentially cut down on those costs. Putting together a babysitting share with a friend or neighbor can help you save some money and help you prioritize your self-care routine. Pick a few mornings or evenings a week to drop the kids off, and then return the favor to help out a fellow tired parent. For parents who stay at home, naptime provides ample opportunity for a little self-care, as well, like that weekly catch-up phone call with your best friend, a quick visit to the basement gym or that at-home spa treatment.
With so many competing priorities, it’s easy to feel guilty about spending money on self-care when there are likely other ways you’re trying to stretch your money. To help combat those feelings, instead of thinking of self-care as an added expense, find a way to make it work within your budget, and start considering it something that keeps you at your happiest and healthiest. In that regard, it’s priceless.